Update 6:21 p.m.: Gov. Beshear Again Says No To Special Session For Clerks Bill
In a statement released Thursday evening, Gov. Steve Beshear again said he would not call a special session for the General Assembly to consider legislation that would relieve county clerks of the obligation to issue marriage licenses.
The legislative effort, which has support in both political parties, is a response to Kim Davis’ ongoing refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“Judge Bunning’s decision today speaks for itself,” Beshear said in the statement. “The future of the Rowan County Clerk continues to be a matter between her and the courts. Deputy clerks have said they will commence issuing marriage licenses beginning tomorrow. It appears that the citizens of Rowan County will now have access to all the services from the clerk’s office to which they are entitled.”
Beshear also reiterated a statement from earlier this week in which he said he has no legal authority to opt county clerks out of issuing marriage licenses.
Davis remains in the Carter County Detention Center. Here is her mugshot:
Update 5:04 p.m.: Candidates For Governor Weigh In
The saga of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has been a part of this year’s election season. Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin has criticized his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway, for Conway’s decision last year to not proceed with an appeal in a legal challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban. (Gov. Steve Beshear filed the appeal instead in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.)
On Thursday afternoon, Conway issued a statement via the Twitter account for the state attorney general’s office:
I understand that passions are high on both sides of this issue, but we are nation of laws and no one can defy an order from a federal judge
— Jack Conway (@kyoag) September 3, 2015
Update 4:55 p.m.: Deputy Clerks Say They Will Issue Licenses
The court proceedings in Ashland have wrapped for Thursday, with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in the custody of federal marshals. Her deputies have said they’ll issue marriage licenses in her absence. Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton notes:
In concluding remarks, Judge Bunning worry over retaliation against deputy clerks who will sign marriage licenses. Asked all to be “civil.”
— Ryland Barton (@RylandKY) September 3, 2015
Update: 4:16 p.m.: Davis Sent Back Into Custody
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said Thursday afternoon that she won’t allow her deputies to issue marriage licenses in her place — and U.S. District Judge David Bunning sent her back into federal custody.
Five of her six deputies had said they’d be willing to issue marriage licenses out of the office.
Update 3:38 p.m.: Deputy Clerks Tell Judge They’ll Issue Licenses
Five of six Rowan County Deputy Clerks told U.S. District Judge David Bunning they were willing to issue marriage licenses despite Clerk Kim Davis’ continued refusal to do so. Davis’ son, Nathan, told the judge he was not willing to issue licenses.
Bunning has called Davis back to court. The question is whether Davis would remain in jail if her deputies were issuing licenses.
Davis testified earlier in the day. She appeared nervous and took tissues and a water bottle with her to the stand.
“Hopefully our legislature will do something” to change the state’s marriage licenses laws, she said during her testimony.
In court, Bunning scolded Davis for refusing to comply with his order.
“Here in the United States, we expect at the end of the day for the court’s orders to be complied with,” the judge said. “This is the way things work in America.”
Update 2:10 p.m.: Judge Unconvinced Fines Would Work
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was in marshal custody Thursday afternoon at a federal courthouse in Ashland, where she’ll stay until she complies with a judge’s order to resume issuing marriage licenses.
Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning had the option to put Davis in custody or to fine her. Bunning said during the hearing he wasn’t convinced fines would compel Davis comply with his order.
During questioning, attorneys for the couples suing Davis asked her whether she had raised funds from the public as the controversy has worn on. Davis said she had not, but said she has received offers.
Davis has said issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her deeply held religious beliefs. In response to a lawsuit filed by couples denied marriage licenses by Davis’ office, Bunning ordered her to resume issuing the documents by Aug. 31. An appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court have declined to stay Bunning’s order.
The deputy clerks in Davis’ office were expected to appear in Bunning’s court on Thursday afternoon.
Outside the federal courthouse in Ashland, protesters on both sides demonstrated:
Earlier: A federal judge ordered that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis be taken into custody on Thursday over her refusal to issue marriage licenses despite a court order.
Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton reports:
Federal judge has put Rowan co clerk in marshal custody until she complies with order to issue marriage licenses pic.twitter.com/zXK7ijkgb2
— Ryland Barton (@RylandKY) September 3, 2015
We’ll have more soon.
Davis has made national headlines this summer for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to any couples since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. An Apostolic Christian, Davis has said issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her deeply held religious beliefs.
Soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling, four couples — two same-sex, two opposite-sex — represented by the ACLU of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit against Davis. Last month, U.S. District Judge Davis Bunning gave Davis until Aug. 31 to begin issuing the documents.
Both an appeals court the U.S. Supreme Court denied her requests for a stay.
An Apostolic Christian, Davis this week said she viewed her stance as “Heaven or Hell decision.” Meanwhile, the controversy has led to protesters — by Davis’ critics and supporters — outside the county courthouse in Eastern Kentucky.
Two other county clerks in Kentucky are also stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling in June.